ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • Commercial & Creative Writing»
  • Creative Writing

A Wilted Leaf In A Pocket: A Writing Challenge

Updated on October 27, 2016

And the Challenge Is?

My dear friend Ann on HP issued a challenge, one kind of spurred on by a comment I made, so I really feel an obligation to take part. Here is her challenge:

“Choose the most boring object or subject you can think of and write an engaging, entertaining, fascinating hub about it. You can make your own choice or write about one of the following:

  • watching paint dry
  • a blank floorboard
  • monotonous music
  • airport runway
  • lying ill in bed with bandages on your eyes and no music
  • a wilted leaf in a pocket

I’m sure you can think of something even more mundane. Just make sure you write about that subject as the core, not merely include it in passing.”

Seems innocent enough, right?

Let’s see if it is!

Source

The Wilted Leaf

From water comes life!

The truth of that statement is all around us, walking on two legs, galloping on four, crawling, creeping, slithering, swimming, flying and sprouting, water is life and, in a very real sense, life is water.

Fleeting thoughts as I felt the textures of the wilted leaf in my pocket; snipped from its source of water it quickly withered and died, the vibrancy gone. A silly leaf, one of a multitude of billions, but this leaf is my lifeline and my anchor to sanity.

AT FIRST

She had wild blond hair when I first met her, forty years ago, curls exploding from that mop of yellow-white, reminding me of a thousand yellow butterflies erupting from their chrysalis all at the same time. It was September of Seventy-six, the start of fifth grade, Sunset Elementary, Seattle, Washington. Her family had just moved to the area from Chicago, her dad some bigwig at Boeing, and she was Claire, Claire Sebastian, two first names, how cool is that, and she walked into the lunchroom that day, all confident and acting like she belonged there, sat down next to me and said, “I’m Claire and we’re going to be friends.”

I was pretty popular in those days, a big fish in a little pond, and I remember thinking this new girl needed to learn her place, needed to act a little shy at first, at the very least, and work her way up the Sunset ladder slowly, but that just wasn’t her way, and before long I was looking forward to lunch and hoping she’d sit next to me, and not long after that I was detouring on the way home after school to walk past her home, and then all pretense gone and I’d walk her home, and September turned into October and the leaves changed . . .

AND ONE OCTOBER

And it was the October of our freshman year at Roosevelt High School that Claire Sebastian woke me up one Saturday morning and invited me to accompany her to the park for a picnic, that’s the way she talked, accompany her, and I said yes, and we did among the changing leaves, their golds and purples, their browns and yellows, all providing the perfect setting as we sat on the park bench and she told me “I’m Claire and we’re going to be married one day.” And I’m thinking I’m just a bit too young to be thinking about marriage and all, but looking in Claire’s eyes I saw conviction and determination, and her smile well, it melted my heart, and what’s a guy supposed to say at that moment?

Well Claire wasn’t one to wait for responses, the words, at times, just exploding from her, so while we sat on that bench she reached out and held my hand, and smiled at me, and damned if I forgot all about being too young and I said “sounds good to me,” and then, I don’t know where the courage came from, I kissed her. And leaves have never looked so vibrant, falling all around us, some sticking to that curly mop of hair, and we smiled at the thought of our future.

Source

And Every October Afterwards

And every October, through high school, and college, we would take Saturday walks, and she would gather the “prettiest of the prettiest” leaves and show them to me, and she explained “these are our leaves, and their color is spectacular because we love each other,” and her words seemed true to me, truer than any words ever spoken, and I loved her for seeing that.

And it was an October morning, on one of those walks twenty-five years ago, that I asked her to marry me, and she pulled me down into a pile of leaves and we laughed and cried, kissed and promised a future of love, and we both kept that promise, through job-changes and childbirths, three total, and sickness and health, good times and bad, every single day a magical journey with Claire leading the way, making dreams come true.

The wild blond curls turned gray, matching mine in color, but that smile never failed to deliver on that promise made so long ago, a promise of outstanding adventures and, as she called it, controlled craziness, crazy in love, she said, and she would hug me, snuggle next to me, give me real strength to replace the false bravado, and her smile was my anchor.

Source

The Last October Walk

And she was still smiling that October morning, six months ago, when she told me about the doctor’s appointment, the tests, the results, the irrefutable conclusions, and she made me promise to always take those October walks, that she would be with me always, and hush now, darling, no tears, and wasn’t it just the sweetest love affair ever, she asked? And I cried then, big man, unashamed, the cruel reality of it all crashing down on me, and she hushed me again and told me love never dies, remember that, she said, that leaves may wilt and lose their color in the winter, but with spring comes new leaves and a new burst of color, just look at our children as the years progress, and you’ll see me.

So the Walks Continue

Every October you’ll find me now, walking among the leaves, picking some up, choosing the most beautiful, and putting it in my pocket, whispering her name, Claire Sebastian, that wild mop of golden hair, that wild mop of golden girl, taking me on a journey of love, changing my life, helping me to see the wonders of life, her smile always with me.

And I smile, as she smiled, and I thank the gods for that lunch period in 5th Grade, many years ago, when I learned my first lesson about love.

2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

THERE YOU GO, ANN!

A promise is a promise, and I’ve delivered. I hope you enjoyed it and I thank you for the challenge and inspiration.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Lawrence!

      bill

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 8 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Bill

      Sad, but beautiful. Really touched the heart.

      Lawrence

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      PS, thank you so much for reading my eternal love story. It means a lot to me that you took the time to do so.

      Hugs heading your way, sprinkled with prayers and love.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 9 months ago from sunny Florida

      O my...and so it is....the changing of the seasons, the turning of the pages on the calendar, and time slips away. In my mind's eye I still am that young woman carefree and unafraid of whatever may come...unafraid to fall in love (although my love did not last so long as Claire's)....

      Beautifully composed and delivered....always a joy to stop and read.

      Angels once again are surrounding you, bill. ps

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's sweet of you to say, Sha! Thank you very much.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 9 months ago from Central Florida

      It's in your aura, Bill. Bev knows how much you love her. Your heart speaks through the boundaries of your skin and your words. Some people sweat. You exude.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Sha! I, oddly, have a hard time showing love in person, but in my words it is always there.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 9 months ago from Central Florida

      I'll never look at a wilted leaf the same again, Bill. And that's a good thing!

      Love never dies, it just goes through a metamorphosis as time goes on. Each stage more beautiful than the last - when it's true.

      I love this story, Bill. The love in your heart comes spilling forth in everything you do.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Rasma!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 9 months ago from Riga, Latvia

      A most wonderful story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, DDE!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 9 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful and interesting!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      MIssy, it takes beauty to recognize beauty. I really believe that, my friend. :) Thank you!

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 9 months ago from Florida

      I cried at the beauty in this one. Your stories are always full of beauty and meaning. Even when they don't seem to have a happy ever after ending, they actually do. If that makes sense? Through the sad comes a beauty that could have never been found without Claire Sebastian. :) Loved it!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's not that I don't want to be known as the love guy; it's that I don't think I could sustain it through an entire book. Oddly enough, I don't "feel it" with this genre. But I will give it some thought, Faith. I promise.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Faith! One day maybe I'll have as much confidence in my writing as you have. :) Blessings on this foggy Sunday.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 9 months ago from southern USA

      Meant ...could go the traditional route.

      If you don't want to be known as the love guy, then you could write these under a pen name : )

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 9 months ago from southern USA

      That's what I'm saying too, Bill ...as Flourish noted, this writing here is much better than the "known" and "making millions" authors of those type books. Being you obviously have the gift, why not tap into that market and then become a "known" author!

      I love all of your writing too, but just pointing out the obvious ...'cause we love you. You good even go the traditional route.

      Hugs

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks for adding that, Kathleen. For Bev and I, it was our second marriage, and we both needed to dig through a whole bunch of past garbage and learn to trust again. :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      bb: The main reason it took us so long to marry is that we met junior year of high school, Don went to West Point (where cadets are not allowed to be married), and I worked my way through college so it took me a year longer to graduate. I wanted to be a college graduate on my wedding day (since I'd missed out on other bridal virtues. But that tidbit starts a whole other conversation!)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Maria, that is very kind of you. Thank you so much, dear friend.

      love,

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, my goodness, you're making me blush. Thank you very much. I'll take your suggestion under advisement.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Ann, for the challenge and the kind remarks. I loved writing this, so you really were doing me a favor. :)

      Have a superb Saturday, my friend.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 9 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      You taught us to write what we know about...

      ...and you, dear Bill, know a lot about love. What a heart wrenching and beautiful love story - a winner to me!

      Love, Maria

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Bill - I TOTALLY AGREE with Faith Reaper. As much as your other writing is lovely, I've always thought you belonged writing Nicholas Sparks type books. (What you've written here is so much better than him.) If you channel the wonder that you have for Bev into words as you seem to have done here, you're a best-seller, hands down, my friend. No more unknown author.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 9 months ago from SW England

      Superb, bill! Beautiful and sad. You had me crying, I confess.

      Thank you so much for stepping up to my challenge, especially with such a poignant story. So much comes from just one dry crinkled leaf!

      You are a master storyteller - but you know that!

      Have a Fantastic Friday, bill!

      Ann

      PS - sorry I'm late in acknowledging this - you know why!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, appsforsys

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      And Shyron, you always hit it out of the park with your clever and creative comments. Thank you so much and blessings to you, and yours, always.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Suzette. I'm not sure what it says about me, that this type of writing is harder for me to do than the dark. LOL

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 9 months ago from Texas

      Bill, you always know how to touch the heart and pull the strings that make it beat a little faster, cause when you write a story I find it hard to believe that the story is not real, that somewhere this story really happened.

      You hit this one out of the park,

      Through the leaves and into the air

      Like the startling of a lark

      And makes me wish that I were there

      Blessings my friend.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 9 months ago from Taos, NM

      Lovely, heartwarming story! Glad to read a story of yours that is not dark. It clutched my heart when reading this.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, Peg, that's music to my ears. Thank you so much. Go get some tissue and dry those eyes. Friday is waiting for you. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathleen, that's interesting. It took Bev and I about seven years to finally marry. I just hadn't grown up enough and it took me some time.

      Thank you for your very kind words.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, you and Flourish are just romantics at heart.....and I think that's very cool. Thank you dear friend. I don't see myself as a romance novelist, but your words are nice to hear.

      blessings and hugs coming your way

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Gosh, Flourish, after all these articles, I made the pinnacle in your eyes. :) I really appreciate those kind words, my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, thanks Vellur. I hope your heart mends soon. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Blossom! I really appreciate that.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 9 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      You definitely turned that challenge into a masterpiece, Bill. What a fantastic gathering of emotions your words evoke, from smug recognition of that certain overconfident youngster to love worn and cherished partner. The tears welled up in my eyes and I sped through the rest of the story to keep from becoming a blubbering mess this early in the morning. But, alas! Tears have a will of their own sometimes. Great story!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 9 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      bb: I loved your story/testimony about you and the love of your life. I met mine in high school too, not quite as young as you. And it took us seven years to get enough of a foothold on our lives to marry and begin a life together.

      This is a great challenge and you've (as usual) set the bar very high!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 9 months ago from southern USA

      Ohhh, this is spectacular, Bill! I love, love, love it. It's actually my favorite of all that I've read of what you have written. You should consider writing more love stories ...they are bestsellers, just saying. I love the pace of the writing in this one.

      Ann should be thrilled.

      Peace and blessings

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Bill, this is the best thing I've read if yours. Pure poetry.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 9 months ago from Dubai

      A beautiful story of love, sad but still the walk always continues in her memory. Broke my heart, well penned.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 9 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      Such a beautiful, touching story - and great images, too.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Manatita. Jodah and I were independent and yet very close to each other...strange how that happens.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I really can, Ruby, and it means a great deal to me. Thank you dear friend.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 9 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I haven't cried today, until now. You have a way of touching my heart with your writing. Your talent has no boundaries! Can you tell that I loved your story?

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 9 months ago from london

      Wonderful offering Bill. Closer to Jodah's approach, as I went for the educational and informative, literally using the theme given.

      That touch of love always add or enhance the emotions of a story, and you do this very well indeed! Nice response.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Marlene! I always appreciate you visiting and commenting.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 9 months ago from Northern California, USA

      Very lovely and intense, just like the leaves as they change color. They are beautiful no matter what color they are. Love lasts forever, no matter if the person is or is not with us.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Irish! It's always great having you visit. Say hi to the Mickster for me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Aw, thank you Emese. I'm so glad you enjoyed my little story of love.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda. I really enjoyed writing this one.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 9 months ago from Dublin, Ireland

      What a beautiful story Bill showing us how to take something simple and bring it to life! Great challenge Ann congrats to you both!

    • Emese Fromm profile image

      EmeseRéka 9 months ago from The Desert

      Beautiful love story. Only a great writer can weave a story like this from the image of a wilted leaf. Thank you for a good read (and tears).

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Norlawrence. Sorry about the sadness, but thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I really appreciate that, Venkatachari M. Thank you sir!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Rodric, thank you for the very kind words. It makes me happy that I inspired you, and thank you for sharing my little story of love.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Barbara Kay!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Eric. I doubt it took much to stir up that heart of yours.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 9 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Oh Bill, this is so sweet, and sad, and beautiful. Leaves wither and fade and die, but love never does.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 9 months ago from California

      Great article as usual. So sad. Pictures were beautiful. Thanks

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 9 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      A beautiful story but with a sad ending, making us cry. Enjoyed a lot.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 9 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      This was excellent! I figured it would be a sad story by the title, but not that it would be a love story too. You are such a great writer. I may not comment each time I read, but I am going to do the challenge too. Again, you have inspired me. You inspired me to write a series of articles that I am working on and now I am doing another challenge. I owe you my muse!

      I enjoy the way you used the leaf to represent the memory of Claire Sebastian or at least his love for her. You took a boring thing and added meaning. I am sharing this on social media of course.

    • Barbara Kay profile image

      Barbara Badder 9 months ago from USA

      I enjoyed your story. This is a beautiful time of year and the leaf was a good choice.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 9 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      You just got me thinking about school starting in the fall. We would reunite with each other and either rekindle or start with fresh love. So fall to me has always been the romantic season. Thanks for stirring my heart up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Randi, you're running out of time for that trip to Chicago. If you go, have a spectacular trip.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I hope you do, Dora. Write in your own style with your own words. They will be more than good enough.

      And thank you!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 9 months ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you, Bill! I wish I could. I usually go to Chicago in October but I started a new job in September.

      Sometines Words is the only thing I have the attention span for. Lol. I'm working on that!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 9 months ago from The Caribbean

      Love, devotion and undying memory are all features in my favorite stories. Thanks, for sharing this beautiful read. I won't even try to imitate this, but I'm encouraged to try the challenge.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Larry, about the only time I use them these days is when a friend issues a challenge. For the most part I've never really needed prompts, so I understand. What I really don't understand is writer's block.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Kristen. Every once in awhile, the romantic in me surfaces.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Randi. It's good to see you somewhere other than Words. LOL Fall is here for sure, bordering on an early winter. If you want changing leaves, comes on up. We'll save you some.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 9 months ago from Oklahoma

      Great read.

      I'll be honest. I understand the concept of prompts, but with rare exception I don't tend to gravitate to following them.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 9 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Bill, this was a moving and beautiful short story. Thanks for sharing. I loved the photos of the leaves to go with the autumn theme. Well done.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 9 months ago from Mesa, AZ

      Great response to an interesting challenge! I read John's story yesrerday and was curious to see yours. Wilted leaves definitely bring out the romantic. And the sweetness. I am definitely missing gall this year and ylur story brpught out all the sweetness that it is and then some!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, Meg! I'm a romantic at heart, I guess. :)

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 9 months ago from Northern Ireland

      What a beautiful, amazing story. Enjoyed it, even though the end was sad and yet, she helped him look forward.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      "All the feels" I love that phrase, Janine, thank you! Happy Thursday sweet lady.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 9 months ago from New York, New York

      Aw, Bill you totally rose the challenge and this story had all the feels and than some! Happy Thursday now, my dear friend!! :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 9 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you John! I still find it interesting that you and I were on the same wavelength. I was in very good company.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 9 months ago from Queensland Australia

      What a beautiful and sad story Bill. Yes we certainly were on the same wave length. Great response to Ann's challenge, but I'd expect nothing less.